Diputación Foral de Guipúzcoa
Gipuzkoakultura
August 12, 2020

The Auxiliary Navy of the Basque Country
(1936-39)

Biographies of The Basque Auxiliary Navy

RAFAEL MENCHACA UGALDE (Plencia, 1911-2002)

Rafael Menchaca Ugalde (Plencia, 1911-2002) Rafael Menchaca was a captain in the Merchant Navy and a member of the Basque Communist Party and the UGT trade union. When the Civil War broke out, he was master of the Lina fishing boat in the Pasajes Fleet. In October, he embarked on the armed Bou trawler Vendaval as the first officer and then went to the Bizkaya with the same rank in December. He served in that vessel until June 1937 and took part in the seizures of the Pluto and the Palos, the freeing of the Yorkbrook in Machichaco and the bombardment of Bermeo… In June, he embarked on the destroyer Císcar as a navigator and remained on it until it sank in Gijon (20-10-37). He was evacuated to France and returned to the Republican zone, where he was appointed Second Commander of the destroyer Almirante Antequera with the rank of Corvette Captain (equivalent to Lieutenant Commander). He took part in the sinking of the enemy cruiser Baleares (6-3-38). He was then appointed Second Commander of the José Luis Diez and was in the Battles of Gibraltar (27-8 and 30-12-38). He was promoted to Frigate Captain (equivalent to Commander) and was sent to the cruiser Miguel de Cervantes as Second Commander and entered in Bizerta with the rest of the Republican Fleet (7-3-39). He was exiled to the USSR and joined the Frunze Military Academy in Moscow and then in Tashkent, where he worked as an instructor. In 1946, he was transferred to Yugoslavia as an attaché to the Coastal Defence General Staff. In 1948, he was sent to Czechoslovakia to command a tug based in Bratislava. Around 1950, he was sent to France on undercover missions until he returned to Prague in 1958. A year later, he returned to Spain. He was arrested in 1962, sentenced to prison as he was found guilty of military rebellion and then pardoned. He died in Santurce.

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